Most of us read, see, or hear thousands of messages during the course of our lives. But only a few strike us with such force that we remember them distinctly. These messages uniquely shape us. They haunt us. We can’t shake them. We go back to them over and over.
I heard of those messages in March 2001, when John Piper spoke at John MacArthur’s Shepherds’ Conference. I’ve listened to it almost every year since. I recently listened to it again. The title is, “Live to Die,” and John’s primary text is Colossians 1:24:
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.
I am not even going to attempt to summarize what John says about the crazy kingdom paradox of a life of joyful suffering. A distillation would only be a dilution. I don’t even recommend that you read the transcript we provide. No, listen to it. John spoke with a peculiar unction that March night in L.A. I have no other way to describe it.
But I will say this: “Live to Die” will shake you. It gets to the core of what it means to live as a Christian in this age. It is not a comfortable message. It will confront you with your assumptions. But it teems with life — real life, New Testament life. If you’re like me, it will haunt you. It may even push you over the edge and you may make that life change that has been gnawing at you. Or it may stir you out of a spiritual sleep. The only excerpt from the message I’ll share is this:
Some of you . . . right now are hovering right on the brink of a radical decision and I’m excited for you. God sent me here for you to push you over the edge and what he’s calling you to do tonight is to make some choices in the service of love — not masochism — in the service of love . . . love that can only be explained if Christ will raise you from the dead.
Listen to it. It is an invitation to live the real adventure: a life that banks on the resurrection.